Digital Games Theory and Design MA

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

This exciting programme will enable you to engage in, and experiment with, practical game design. You will also explore theories and concepts with which to analyse the formal characteristics of games, the types of pleasure and values they offer and their place in contemporary culture.

"I believe this award to be the best of its kind in the country, and continue to be both impressed and envious of the quality of students it attracts."

Professor Richard Bartle, University of Essex

Aims

  • To produce graduates who have a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of the advanced academic study of digital games and the techniques and principles used in their design.

  • To provide the relevant expertise and teaching and learning environment to support students’ critical and creative engagement with issues at the cutting edge of analysing and designing digital games; to enable students to contribute to the process of defining ‘game studies’ as a new academic discipline.

  • To produce graduates who have the skills and knowledge to gain employment in the digital games industry and make contributions to the development of innovative games that go beyond current markets; to equip students with the skills necessary to undertake doctoral level research.

Enquiries

Programme Director: Justin Parsler

Course Content

Each module will have a range of assessments; some practical, others written.

  • Game Design 1 (term 1, 30 credits) [practical group design projects (small); written evaluative case study 2000 words; assessed presentation]

  • Principles behind the rules and play of games. Detailed study of how games function to create experiences, including rule design, play, mechanics/structure, game balancing, social game interaction and the integration of textual strategies to create the gaming experience. A range of paper-based and/or digitally rendered designs trial ideas and provide the focus for an evaluative case study, which is also presented orally.

  • Critical Approaches (term 1, 30 credits) (2 x 5000 word essays)

  • Criticism and analysis of games. Detailed study of the different methodological approaches used in the study of games/videogames. Students engage with issues of constructing a vocabulary used to evaluate critically the aesthetics of videogames and their relation to and distinction from other media. Case studies on particular games as objects of critical study.

  • Game Design 2 (term 2, 30 credits) (1 x practical design project tailored to a specific platform (large); written evaluative case study 3000 words; assessed presentation)

  • Building on work in Game Design I, develop individually a design for a game for a particular platform (phone; PC; handheld, console etc). The game can be delivered in digital format for those with technical skills or as storyboard, character profiles, visual 'mood board'/style palette, sound-effects/music profiling. The project will demonstrate practical application of ideas explored in Critical Approaches to show a deep understanding of concepts of pleasure, genre, core game-play values, structure and rules.

  • Socio-cultural Contexts (term 2, 30 credits) (2 x 5000 word essays)

  • Analysis of how games reflect and construct individuals and groups. Detailed study of work conducted on the social-cultural implications of games from across a range of disciplines. In light of these knowledges/findings/theories, a focused case study of an existing MMoRPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) in terms of online economies, community building, fan cultures and creative reworkings of game content, the role of culture in shaping games and the way that games might shape culture.

  • Final Project (either 12,000-18,000 words or 8,000 words with practical component - delivered in either digital format or as a design document (term 3, 60 credits)).

Students are expected to use the MA forum for discussions and each student is encouraged to sign up for a MMO to enable collective play, which will become the subject of evaluative discussion across the modules.

Special Features

  • Students will engage in, and experiment with, practical games creation, with workshops led by designers working in the industry, as well as explore a range of theories and concepts with which to analyse the values of games, play and pleasure.

  • This programme offers a unique focus on practical games design, informed by theory that is not offered by any other university. It is not a software or graphics training programme.

  • We have a team of experienced games researchers teaching on the programme, some of whom have played a pioneering role in making game studies a new academic discipline.

Assessment

A combination of practical games-making work, presentations and essays of varying length.

Careers

Games industry and related, academic. This programme is likely to be of interest to those who wish to gain expertise in the design of digital games as level designers, Q&A, project managers. It may be of interest to those already working in the industry and to those seeking to enter into an academic career.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2014/15 entry

UK/EU students: £6,250 full-time; £3,125 part-time

International students: £14,250 full-time; £7,125 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

A UK first or second class (2:1) Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in arts; humanities; social sciences; multimedia; computing or electrical engineering.

Other subjects and qualifications with relevant games industry experience will be assessed on an individual basis.

Applicants may be invited to an interview. 

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a range of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Monday 01 September 2014